Recycling Product News Logo

Q&A with Robin Wiener

CARI's Marie Binette sits down with ISRI president Robin Wiener to talk about the importance of our industry associations, advocacy and relationships

At the ISRI 2017 convention in New Orleans, from left: ISRI’s Doug Kramer and Adina Renee Adler, with CARI president Tracy Shaw, Korina Kirk (former president of the Scrap Metal Recycling Association of New Zealand) and Salam Sharif (former president of the Bureau of Middle East Recycling).
At the ISRI 2017 convention in New Orleans, from left: ISRI’s Doug Kramer and Adina Renee Adler, with CARI president Tracy Shaw, Korina Kirk (former president of the Scrap Metal Recycling Association of New Zealand) and Salam Sharif (former president of the Bureau of Middle East Recycling).

Company info

PO Box 67094 Westboro
Ottawa, ON
CA, K2A 4E4

Website:
cari-acir.org

Read more

1615 L Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC
US, 20036

Website:
isri.org

Read more

Many North American recycling businesses rely on the hard work of industry associations to help ward off burdensome legislation. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) in the U.S. and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries(CARI) in Canada provide members with educational resources, networking opportunities and advocacy muscle at home and abroad. These associations also have a long history of collaborating with one another to combat common issues. 

As CARI's communications manager, I recently had the opportunity to speak with ISRI President Robin Wiener about the work ISRI is doing, advocacy alongside CARI, and the relationship between the associations. 

In Suzhou, China, ISRI president Robin Wiener (centre) and Adina Renee Adler (far right) pictured on a tour of the Kunshan Meihu Screw Machinery Co. facility, with China Scrap Plastics Association president Jason Wang (far left) and associates.

Marie Binette (MB): You have been with ISRI since 1989 and in the executive role for more than 20 years. How have things changed from an awareness and advocacy perspective?

Robin Wiener (RW): It's a great question. It's fair to say that one thing that hasn't changed, which is equally vital today as it was 30 years ago, is the importance of relationships; building relationships within the membership, but also with policymakers. 

Despite all the advances in technology and communications, the best way to advocate on all levels of government is always through personal relationships. Once policymakers know who you are and they have confidence that what you're providing is good, objective information, you build credibility through that trust in the relationship. That's where ISRI has proven very valuable over time for our members. We've built trusted relationships at all levels of government. When something is needed we can go to the right office, and when the policymakers need something they know to call us. 

Now certainly one thing that has changed dramatically is how you mobilize grassroots, and how you communicate with elected officials on a routine basis. Social media and email have become very important, and although some may say the day of the written note is gone, the truth is that a handwritten note has more effect than ever now because it stands out. So we still use handwritten letters as appropriate.

At the same time, we're relying more and more on facility tours because they can be so absolutely impactful. Another thing about the recycling industry that has not changed is that it is very much under the radar and there's a lot of misinformation out there as to what we do. I still meet policymakers who don't really understand where we are in the whole manufacturing supply chain. Bringing them to a facility and having them actually see operations is always a very effective tool.

MB: What type of advocacy does ISRI do on the global level?

RW: On the global level, we're advocating in other countries on trade issues. We advocate for free and fair trade, we encourage the use of ISRI specifications as a clear set of guidelines as to what legitimate recyclables should be able to enter a country, and we promote environmentally responsible recycling globally.

 We also collaborate with our partner associations around the world, CARI being one of the most important, so that we can present a unified voice for recycling globally. This is something we've been aggressively advocating within the associations community, that recycling associations need to come together to leverage our voices and make sure there is a strong voice for the recycling industry globally.

MB: Are there particular issues that ISRI and CARI are working on together at the global level?

RW: Actually, there are a couple. One issue is the proposed amendments to the Basel Convention, which have the potential to restrict and control scrap exports and redefine who can call themselves a recycler. 

Even though ISRI and CARI are both actively involved, ISRI relies on CARI on this issue because CARI has developed excellent relationships with the Canadian government. The United States is not a party to the Basel Convention so we often need to rely on the Canadian government to boost understanding of issues that affect our industry and that could affect and the global trade of materials. ISRI's worked very closely therefore with CARI to further support their efforts with the Canadian government on Basel. That's been a very important issue and we're very grateful for CARI's support and collaboration. 

MB: How long have ISRI and CARI been working together? 

RW: I can say with full confidence that it's been 30 years at least, though I'd imagine it predates that. I've been working with Tracy Shaw, CARI's current president and I worked with Len Shaw, CARI's previous president before that, and it's been a very fruitful relationship for which I'm very grateful.
MB: Do you see any big differences between the U.S. and Canadian recycling industries?

RW: ISRI has members in Canada as well so I do have experience with Canadian recyclers from that perspective, and I'm not aware of any major differences. Certainly, there are selective differences in terms of regulations and we have to be cognizant of that, but I think it's a very similar philosophy. Our industries are more similar than they different, and the U.S. and Canadian are among the closest of all of the recycling industries around the world. 

CARI's former president Len Shaw, with daughter and current president Tracy Shaw, along with CARI's director of events, Donna Turner. Photo circa 2011.

MB: Beyond global advocacy, what other types of work do ISRI and CARI do together domestically?

RW: We have a long history working together on issues that are North American in interest. One issue would be safety. 

Collaboration on safety goes back many years. Tracy, and Len before that, and others from CARI often come to ISEC, which are ISRI's Safety and Environmental Council meetings where best practices are discussed and a lot of guidance is provided on safety. We've shared our safety manual and we've talked about other collaborative efforts with regards to safety. We've opened up our Circle of Safety Excellence to ISRI members who are in Canada with the help of CARI. 

Metals theft is an issue that is very common between Canada and the U.S. From the beginning of the issue really re-emerging back in the mid-2000s, we collaborated very closely on strategies for addressing metals theft. We worked on finding ways that our industry could be a solution to the problem and we worked together to develop ScrapTheftAlert.com, our online theft reporting system that both ISRI and CARI members rely on, so it's another great example of our collaboration. 

NAFTA is another domestic issue ISRI and CARI have worked on together. Tracy and Adina Renee Adler, ISRI's Assistant VP of International Trade, worked very closely with the Mexican Recycling Institute [Institute Nacional de Recicladores, or INARE] to develop a North American recycling coalition to advance issues on behalf of our industry in the renegotiation of NAFTA, and that's been very useful.

MB: You've described numerous benefits of the relationship that ISRI and CARI have shared. Is there anything else you see as of great benefit to all of the members, both at ISRI and CARI?

RW: I really do value CARI very much, for a number of reasons. Not just because of the common issues we have and the close working relationship we share, but also it's important on the international front for there to be a strong North American voice representing the recycling industry, and not just a U.S. voice. We really have to represent the diversity that is present in North America and to band with Tracy has been very helpful. It's strengthened both ISRI and CARI's voices. 

Marie Binette is CARI's manager of communications.

This article was originally published in the May/June edition of Recycling Product News, Volume 27, Number 4.

More from Industry News

California Product Stewardship Council lauds Canadian government initiative on plastics

The California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) shared the above video and the New York Times article below with their members and stakeholders this week, stating: "We wanted to share with you a short yet powerful video and article about the Canadian Prime Minister's announcement that they are taking on plastics, will push forward with Enhanced Producer Responsibility for all plastics, and will put a single-use plastic ban in place by 2021.  We are energized by this video and, with your support, will continue to push California forward as part of this movement.  The time is now!"

Indonesia to use ISRI Specs to ease restrictions on recovered paper imports

Last month, in an effort to crack down on illegal shipments, the Indonesian government imposed new regulations on imports of recovered paper. The rules included a 0.5% contamination limit and 100% pre-shipment inspections, including separating containers into bales. The government has now announced that it will instead use the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) specifications for recovered paper which set a standard of 1-2% for prohibitives and 3-4% for outhrows. It is also using the specifications to define its use of the word "homogenous" in describing the condition of bales.

​Provincial waste reduction organizations support Canadian plan to reduce plastic waste

Four of Canada's major provincial waste reduction and recycling organizations (Recycling Council of BC, Recycling Council of Alberta, Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council and Recycling Council of Ontario) have announced their official support for the Government of Canada's announcement regarding plans to reduce Canada's plastic waste, support innovation, and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives.

Two Ontario municipalities launch residential polystyrene recycling thanks to municipal/industry partnership

Polystyrene foam recycling has returned to the Towns of Brockton and Hanover, as of the end of May 2019. The Chair of Brockton's Environmental Advisory Committee, Bruce Davidson, anticipates that residents have been saving foam packaging for a while in the hopes that recycling opportunities would resume. 

New study finds introduction of deposit on non-alcoholic beverages in Ontario will increase recycling and save millions

A newly released report, Better Together: How a Deposit Return System will Complement Ontario's Blue Box Program and Enhance the Circular Economy, has found that a 15-cent returnable deposit on non-alcoholic beverage containers in the province would result in over 90% of non-alcoholic beverage containers being collected for recycling. The report was commissioned by circular economy not-for-profit Reloop, and authored by international environmental consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting. According to the report, the deposit program would not only divert waste from landfill but also reduce beverage container-related litter by around 80%.

New Way recognizes 2018 dealer accomplishments

Each year, New Way Trucks, an industry-leading refuse truck manufacturer, acknowledges the sales success generated by members of their authorized dealer network with a prestigious Top Ten Dealer Award. These awards are proudly presented as a way of showing gratitude for the sales achievements made by the top performing dealers and their sales teams. New Way has an extensive network of dealers located throughout the United States as well as internationally. 

Vancouver students perform concert in partnership with BC Used Oil Management Association

BC Used Oil Management Association ("BCUOMA"), a not-for-profit group dedicated to the collection and recycling of lubricating oil, oil filters, oil containers, antifreeze and antifreeze containers in British Columbia, recently partnered with ARTish Response Team ("ART") on the 4th annual "Rock The Salish Sea!" Concert Series. Students from Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School in Vancouver performed the "Rock the Salish Sea" concert on June 6, 2019 at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary, 449 E. 62nd Ave, Vancouver, BC. 

California assembly approves ambitious measure to cut packaging and plastic waste by 75 percent

Acknowledging the worldwide environmental devastation and health problems wrought by plastic and non-recycled trash, both houses of the California State Legislature have now approved identical first-of-their-kind measures to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste and jumpstart the in-state clean recycling economy.

Terrapure Environmental acquires leading environmental services business in Greater Montreal

Terrapure Environmental ("Terrapure"), a leading Canadian environmental solutions provider to industry, has announced it has acquired RSR Environnement ("RSR") of Vercheres, QC. The purchase includes vehicles and equipment, as well as RSR's employees and existing customer relationships. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

free-paper-airplane

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Canada's chemistry and plastics industries making strides to tackle plastic waste

In celebration of Environment Week in Canada (during the week of June 5th annually) the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) highlighted the important headway their members are making in tackling the global challenge of plastic waste in the environment.

Federal government called on to take immediate action on plastic waste

Twelve leading ocean conservancy and environmental groups have requested that Canada's environment and health ministers take immediate regulatory action on plastic waste and pollution, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999,and call on the Government of Canada to add any plastic generated as a waste, or discharged from the use or disposal of products or packaging, to the Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances under CEPA. 

Mondi accelerates efforts to create flexible packaging from post-consumer recycled plastic

Mondi Group, a global leader in packaging and paper, led Project Proof, a Pioneer Project facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). The project has created a proof-of-concept prototype flexible plastic pouch incorporating a minimum of 20% post-consumer plastic waste originating from mixed household waste. The pouch is suitable for packaging household products such as detergent. 

Polystyrene foam recycling returns to Ontario communities thanks to multi-sector partnership

May 30th was a "remarkable day in the history of recycling in Brockton and Hanover", according to the Chair of Brockton's Environmental Advisory Committee, Bruce Davidson, who performed the master of ceremony duties at an event to announce that polystyrene (plastic foam) recycling is returning to Brockton and Hanover municipal recycling programs.

VIZIO receives distinguished e-Stewards enterprise designation

VIZIO, a manufacturer of high-definition televisions (HDTVs) recently joined the elite list of e-Stewards® Enterprise companies. e-Stewards Enterprises are corporations and institutions committed to using the world's most globally responsible electronics recycling companies that are certified to the e-Stewards Standard. The e-Stewards standard is the only electronic waste recycling and refurbishment standard that disallows exporting hazardous electronic waste to developing countries and employs the most rigorous criteria to prevent data breaches from discarded hardware.

free-magazine-subscription

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

R&M International receives presidential award for exports

In May, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross presented R&M International with the President's "E" Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Secretary Ross honoured a select group of U.S. companies with the President's "E" Award, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

TOMRA'S Frank Van de Winkel to participate on Harbour Aluminum Summit Market Outlook Panel

Frank van de Winkel, business development manager for TOMRA Sorting Recycling, will participate in a panel discussion during Harbor's 12th Aluminum Outlook Summit, held June 4-6, 2019, at Chicago's Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The Session 5 panel discussion will focus on North America's aluminum scrap & secondary market outlook, diving deep into emerging trends and market challenges. The session will take place in the Radisson's Atlantic Ballroom, starting at 8:25 a.m. on Thursday, June 6. 

International e-Waste export guideline deemed unready according to BAN

The 14th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention concluded in early May, without approving in full the Technical Guidelines on the Transboundary Movement of e-Waste. The Guideline, which included an exemption from controls for e-wastes claimed for repair, failed to find the support for its final adoption after several years of negotiation. The Basel Convention seeks to prevent the export and dumping of hazardous wastes, particularly in developing countries. 

free-paper-airplane

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Lafarge's Richmond facility aims to be most carbon efficient cement plant in Canada

Lafarge Canada Inc.'s Richmond Cement Plant has launched a new and improved lower carbon fuel (LCF) system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of cement. The initiative aims to make the facility the most carbon efficient cement plant in Canada. It will also help minimize landfill waste; specifically, non-recyclable plastics that are creating a backlog for municipalities across Canada.

Latest study on plastics misses the mark according to industry associations

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has released a report called "Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet," which looks at plastics production and greenhouse gas emissions. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) responded with the following statement, attributed to Steve Russell, vice president of ACC's Plastics Division:

PlasticActionCentre.ca is Canada’s first national resource for knowledge and action on plastic waste

Canada understands the consequences of plastic waste and is fully engaged like never before: governments at all levels are initiating new policies; organizations are improving business models; and individuals are eager to learn more. To fully engage on this pressing environmental issue Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), with funding from Walmart Canada, has launched the Plastic Action Centre, the first national resource that offers a full view of plastic waste in every corner of the country.

Micron Waste secures US design patent for innovative organic waste treatment technology

Micron Waste Technologies Inc., the Vancouver-based developer of waste treatment systems for food and cannabis waste, has been awarded United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) intellectual property protection for its commercial organic waste digester unit. Micron's Application No.: 29/644,928 sought and won recognition for leading innovative technological features which enable the digester to efficiently process food and cannabis waste on a commercial scale. Micron's digester hardware is also protected by an Industrial Design Certificate of Registration from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

ISRI opens SREA program to nonmembers for first time

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) is announcing that it has opened up its popular Superfund Recycling Equity Act (SREA) Reasonable Care Compliance Program to nonmembers. The SREA Reasonable Care Compliance Program offers detailed reports on consuming facilities' environmental compliance records. Doing such due diligence on facilities can assist recyclers with the defense of a Superfund liability claim as a way of showing "reasonable care." 

Recycling industry seeks relief from excessive rail charges at Surface Transportation Board

The nation's recycling industry is calling on the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address unreasonable railroad practices related to railcar supply and storage fees. Members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) today testified before an STB hearing that rail is a critical mode for transporting ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal, particularly for distances greater than 200 miles. Since many recycling facilities are served by only one major freight railroad, there are rarely alternative modes of transportation - which means scrap metal and other recycling companies are too often suffering poor rail service and seeing skyrocketing fees.

CBI & Ecotec expand New England focus with high ground equipment

New England will have a new heavy equipment dealership for the materials processing industry with familiar faces representing the CBI and Terex Ecotec product lines. High Ground Equipment has been established by business partners Art Murphy and Scott Orlosk in 2019 as a dedicated New England dealer focused on sales, service, and parts support. High Ground Equipment currently operates a support services location inside of Terex's New Hampshire manufacturing facility and can be found online at www.highgroundequipment.com.

free-magazine-subscription

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more